Good, they’re both home.
He parked the pickup behind his parents sedans already in the driveway. I’ll remember the code when I get to the door. With only a two-day break before second semester started, it seemed right to surprise them. Climbing out of the truck, moist grass welcomed his feet. One easy hop took him up the three steps to the door.
Yes! 9158. Music, ever so faint, leaked from inside, hurrying him in. In the quiet front hall, a familiar warmness flowed over him. So good to be home. He hung his coat on the stair rail and headed in the direction his nose usually pointed him. Mom’s famous soup! The almost intoxicating aroma intensified the closer he got to the kitchen. And the music swelled too. They’re home alright.
You’re just too good to be true….Can’t take my eyes off of you.
You feel like heaven to touch, I want to hold you so much,
You’re just too good to be true, can’t take my eyes off of you.”
The moment seemed sacred, them not knowing he stood watching. His dad swayed his mom to the song as if nothing else existed. She smiled up at him, totally engrossed in his embrace, until he twirled her around and she caught sight of her youngest son in the doorway.
“Uh, hi, Dad, Mom… sorry to barge in, but it is only five, and I didn’t think I’d be… but, dang it, you told me last year to start knocking… I’m sorry… I forgot.”
“Hey, hey, Bud, no problem!” John hugged his boy and then dropped into the closest chair, grinning. “We’re decent, aren’t we? Good to see you, Son! Come on in, sit down…what brings you all the way from Virginia?”
As the three chatted about “the latest” in the tiny den by the kitchen, Jay soaked in his surroundings. This was the life he left behind almost four years ago. Why would he just now see it? They’d always shown love for each other. So why the lump in his throat just now? Could it be the non-breakup, break up he’d just been texted last week? Could it be the series of divorces he’d heard about lately? Or maybe he’d talked to enough girls now- dated enough- to find only a few who said their parents truly liked each other.
“Mom, Dad, I hope I have a marriage like yours. You guys make it look easy to be happy…”
Can there be a higher compliment than this? One of my sixty-something friends shared this story while we chatted over coffee. Her son had toasted a similar version at their 40th wedding anniversary party. Then she said this:
“Our kids are jealous of us. They see us kiss in the kitchen, dance in every room, and laugh wherever we are. They wonder out loud when will it be their turn!”
Growing older isn’t on anyone’s bucket list. But it happens to most of us. And it presents a double challenge. Is my purpose in life bigger than my age, and am I in love with my mate?
Do you have that marriage? Did your parents have that marriage? Who do you know with that marriage? I can’t wait to hear about it!
“Up here, Honey! Look up!” Leaning over our foyer balcony, I watched him pass by under me- my handsome mid-sixties guy. At 2:00 on a Friday afternoon a new spot on the Guadalupe River awaited our arrival. Blood, sweat and tears had gone into planning this outing, designed to return a bit of romance to our lives.
Reading James lately, taking each verse slow and deliberate, brought this memory to mind. James 1:2 tells us to “count it all joy” when we meet trials of various kinds, for we “know that the testing of our faith produces steadfastness” (endurance). And we are to let it have its perfect work in us to make us “complete, lacking nothing.”
When I hear His words “trials” and “lacking nothing,” I think of God’s goal for marriage: To mirror His amazing relationship with His Bride the Church. It is to be both a test (do we trust God?) and a tool for changing the world, through our romance and through raising children who see it.
I really wanted to live out this Mirror. A few years back I also desperately wanted our last remaining nestling to see a mom and dad “engaged” in their marriage; and this had become a passion all its own. But how could we do it? Family business stress ate away at our niceness. Health and financial issues brought daily annoyances. And those common Christian realities of resentment, irritations, and church activities — all conspired to put us at arm’s length from each other.
On this day, however… we would make memories, or die trying. Private property on the river, a one-day gift from dear friends, meant privacy for us –and Hubby would love it.
“Hey, Babe, are you ready, yet? I found the perfect blanket up here, and the food basket is all set.” Practically intoxicated by Spring’s pale green live oaks under an almost neon blue canopy, I inwardly squealed with anticipation. Why did he look so good to me even though he acted almost as though being led to slaughter?
“I have way too much going on today to do this, but…” and then he seemed to catch himself. “I’ll be ready in a minute, Baby.”
Now, everybody knows that attraction comes before romance, and most even add the belief that attraction is the necessary fuel on which romance runs. But based on my river experience, I disagree.
Attraction is fickle.
Romance is work. But it is also attitude. With zero desire, zero attraction, a set of lousy circumstances to boot, there is still enough soil in marriage for a romantic plant to grow a nice crop of attraction.
Why do we resist this thesis? We women want romance. Actually we need it. Badly. We watch “Jane Eyre” and “Pride and Prejudice.” We long for the thrill of an afternoon on a blanket with the middle part of ro-man-tic. Enough of the “ro.” Enough of the “tic.” Give me the man! But besides work and attitude, romance is definition.
We get the definition all wrong, and live romantically through our skewed imaginations. Resentment dresses up as lack of attraction, killing romance in our humdrum lives, and we feel “forced” to live vicariously through social media, our perception of other’s lives, and even our children.
I bet you have already pictured my hubby and me out there on that blanket. You don’t even need a photo. Not at all. You picture us kissing, eating our food, and sipping our wine, all while fluffy clouds roll above us.
Not quite. I was attacked by chiggers before even spreading the blanket. (That tall grass between the car and the river should have tipped me off; yet he could have carried me!) Also, the river was alive with canoes and rafts and laughter. Yup. Other folks floated by, probably with the same idea- romance. So, lacking the privacy we bargained for, my husband kept up a steady conversation of a different kind.
We did eat our food and act silly a bit.
But did we make a memory? You bet. And did it register as romantic? Yes- for both of us. Years of remembering can improve some things. But the planning, as well as the giddiness I felt on the balcony that warm afternoon, have memorialized our river romance quite nicely.
James 1:12 encourages us. “Blessed is the man (woman) who remains steadfast under trial, for when he (she) has stood the test he will receive the crown of life.”
Do you have memories of attempts to be romantic? Do you find yourself defining romance in light of media?
I’d love your thoughts!